Occupational health and safety (OHS) legislation in Canada is designed to ensure that employees are protected in the workplace. Businesses must comply with these laws to avoid penalties, fines, and legal liabilities.
In this blog, we’ll provide an overview of OHS legislation in Canada and offer practical tips and guidance on how to achieve compliance.
Occupational Health and Safety Legislation in Canada
OHS legislation in Canada is regulated by federal, provincial, and territorial governments. In each jurisdiction, the legislation establishes the general rights and responsibilities of employers, supervisors, and workers through an Act or statute, as well as accompanying regulations. Regulations made under an Act specify how the Act is to be applied and enforced.
All ten provinces, three territories, and the federal government have their own individual OHS legislation. The agency to engage with for OHS matters is usually your provincial or territorial agency (for example, in British Columbia, that will be WorkSafeBC, in Alberta, it’s the Government of Alberta).
Some of the key areas covered by OHS legislation include:
- Hazard identification and assessment
- Emergency preparedness and response
- Employee training and education
- Reporting hazards, substandard conditions, and incidents (and keeping records of each)
- Use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
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Tips for Achieving OHS Compliance
You should always check the OHS legislation in your province or territory, but there are some common activities that promote a safe and healthy workplace.
Here are six practical tips that can help businesses in Canada achieve compliance with OHS legislation:
1. Conduct a workplace hazard assessment: Begin by conducting a thorough assessment of all the roles in your workplace to identify potential hazards and the risks associated with those roles. This will help you determine any potential deficiencies that are present so you can implement controls.
2. Develop a health and safety program: Based on your workplace hazard assessment, develop a comprehensive health and safety program that includes policies, safe work procedures, best practices, and guidelines. This program should be tailored specifically to the hazards you have identified and any risks associated with your industry.
3. Provide employee training and education: Provide employees with the training and education they need to perform their jobs safely. This should include regular training sessions such as new employee orientations, job specific training, and training in safety fundamentals appropriate to the industry and in line with legislative compliance. Regular refresher training should also be offered to ensure employees are kept up to date with amendments to legislation and changes within the health and safety program. Browse SafetyVantage training courses.
4. Ensure that personal protective equipment is available and used: Provide employees with the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for their job. Ensure that employees are trained in the use, care, maintenance, and storage of PPE and that they wear it consistently.
5. Keep records and reports: Ensure employees are trained in the consistent reporting of hazards, substandard acts and conditions, and that all incidents (whether serious or minor) are reported to a supervisor. Accurate records of hazards and workplace incidents – including injuries and near misses – must be documented and kept on file. These records will help you identify trends and areas for improvement.
6. Regularly review and update your health and safety program: Regularly review and update your health and safety program to ensure that it remains current and effective. This will help in the journey towards continuous improvement and support efforts to stay compliant with legislation and maintain a safe and healthy workplace.
Get Started Today
Achieving compliance with OHS legislation in Canada is essential for the health and well-being of employees and the success of any organization. By conducting a workplace hazard assessment, developing a comprehensive health and safety program, providing employee training and education, ensuring the use of personal protective equipment, reporting issues and keeping records and reports, and regularly reviewing and updating your program, you can ensure that you are in compliance with legislation.
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